Thursday’s Game Report: Cardinals 5, Diamondbacks 4 (10 innings)
By Rob Rains
The Cardinals have been searching all season for relievers who could give them some alternatives when they have to go to somebody other than their top threesome of Alex Reyes, Giovanny Gallegos and Genesis Cabrera.
Ryan Helsley and Daniel Ponce de Leon stepped up to do just that on Thursday night in Phoenix.
After Carlos Martinez did not allow a hit through the first six innings, the Cardinals saw a 4-0 lead quickly turn into a 4-3 game, with the bases loaded and nobody out, when Helsley came in from the bullpen to relieve Cabrera.
He was able to get out of the jam unscathed, and preserve the one-run lead.
Then after the game went to the 10th inning, the Cardinals took the lead on a double by Yadier Molina and turned the one-run lead over to Ponce de Leon. He got the save, retiring all three hitters he faced on a fly ball, soft line out and a ground out.
“It was huge by Helsley,” said manager Mike Shildt. “Went into attack mode and kept it right there … Clearly bases loaded with nobody out is a tough situation. Best scenario is a punch out for the first guy then you are a ground ball away from getting out of it.
“Ponce was fantastic too, to preserve a victory. We’re going to need contributions from more than just those three guys (Reyes, Gallegos and Cabrera) clearly. It’s becoming more encouraging.”
The loss was the 11th in a row for the Diamondbacks.
Here is how Thursday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: Tyler O’Neill returned from the injured list and launched a 451 foot home run off the scoreboard in his first at-bat that put the Cardinals up 2-0. They made it a three-run inning when Paul Goldschmidt drew a bases-loaded walk, the first the Cardinals have received this season … Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado hit back-to-back doubles in the fifth to build the lead to 4-0 but the Cardinals had just one hit after that until Molina’s double in the 10th, his third hit of the game … Edmundo Sosa was hit by a pitch for the eighth time this season … Martinez’s single in the second, which helped get the Cardinals to the third run, broke an 0-of-20 streak for their pitchers since Jack Flaherty’s homer on May 7.
On the mound: The only baserunners allowed by Martinez through the first six innings were on a leadoff walk in the fourth and a hit batter, to the pitcher, with one out in the sixth. He struck out six of the first nine hitters he faced, but did not strike out another batter the rest of the game … A clean single to left broke up the no-hit bid leading off the seventh, the first of three consecutive hits that knocked Martinez out of the game … Cabrera did not retire any of the three hitters he faced as the Diamondbacks cut the lead to 4-3. He left with the bases loaded before Helsley was able to get out of the jam with two strikeouts and a groundout … Gallegos gave up the tying run in the eighth. Reyes pitched the ninth and Ponce de Leon got the save by retiring all three hitters he faced in the 10th, stranding the designated runner where he started at second base.
Key stat: The save was the second of Ponce de Leon’s career, the first since his rookie season in 2018.
Worth noting: The Cardinals expect to have an update on Friday about Miles Mikolas’s visit to Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday for a second opinion about the cause of the tightness in his right arm which forced Mikolas back on the injured list after pitching only four innings in his first start since the 2019 playoffs … With O’Neill back, John Nogowski was optioned back to Memphis … Andrew Miller made his second rehab appearance for Memphis on Thursday night and gave up a long home run and walked a batter. He struck out two, but needed 21 pitches to get through his one inning … Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong, who were with the Cardinals in Chicago, returned to St. Louis to continue treatment … The Cardinals’ game at Atlanta on June 20 was picked up by ESPN for the Sunday night baseball broadcast. The Cardinals’ game on June 13, against the Cubs in Chicago, also will be the featured Sunday night game.
Looking ahead: Johan Oviedo will take the place of Mikolas in the rotation and start on Friday night in the second game of the series against the Diamondbacks.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains